Suffering From Shoulder Pain? It May Be Shoulder Bursitis

shoulder bursitis

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  • Shoulder bursitis, also known as subacromial bursitis, is a common cause of shoulder pain. The pain usually starts at the outside of the shoulder at the top of your arm. But as the inflammation worsens, it trickles down, but never past the elbow
  • The first thing you should do once you develop shoulder bursitis is to visit a doctor

Shoulder bursitis, also known as subacromial bursitis , is a common cause of shoulder pain. The shoulder bursa is located at the top of the arm bone and the tip of the shoulder, right above the rotator cuff tendons.1

When the bursa becomes inflamed, there’s a chance that the shoulder tendons become inflamed too, which is a condition called tendonitis. Either of these can develop a condition called shoulder impingement syndrome, which is a term used to describe general shoulder pain.2

What Are the Common Risk Factors and Causes of Shoulder Bursitis?

There are many possible causes for shoulder bursitis. Some of the most common include:3

  • Incorrect posture: Over time, your bursa can become damaged because your shoulder is not resting at a normal, comfortable posture.
  • Direct trauma: An injury from sports or other physically strenuous activities can directly damage the bursa.
  • Infection: Bacteria can enter your bursa through an open wound, causing an infection known as septic bursitis. If this occurs, immediate treatment is needed because it can lead to further health complications.
  • Medical conditions: If you have certain medical conditions that affect your shoulder, such as rheumatoid arthritis  (RA), your bursa may become inflamed over time.
  • Shoulder surgery: A recent surgical operation on your shoulder can increase your chances of subacromial bursitis.

Symptoms of Shoulder Bursitis You Should Not Ignore

Once your shoulder bursa becomes inflamed, you will notice pain developing in the area, which can gradually increase over time. Certain movements, such as lifting your arms, can put strain on the already inflamed bursa, worsening the pain further.4

The pain usually starts at the outside of the shoulder at the top of your arm. But as the inflammation worsens, it trickles down, but never past the elbow. You’ll notice that the affected shoulder may be tender, and lying down before sleeping can be uncomfortable due to the weight pressing down.5

Treatment Options for Shoulder Bursitis

The first thing you should do if you develop shoulder bursitis is to visit a doctor. You will be advised to get plenty of rest and avoid strenuous activities that may have led to the development of bursitis in the first place. Sports, work and other physically demanding activities should be put on hold for a few weeks until the pain subsides completely.6

To help minimize movement in your shoulder, you may be asked to use a sling. This will allow you to go about your day without causing further damage to your bursa. At home, you may apply ice packs every 20 to 30 minutes every four hours to help the inflammation subside. You will also need to change your sleeping posture to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your affected shoulder.7

Finally, if natural methods don’t work, you may have to resort to surgical treatment to reduce the inflammation. You will undergo a procedure called subacromial decompression, where a small incision is made at the inflamed bursa to relieve pressure. This will clear up space on your shoulder so that the rotator cuff tendons can move freely again.8

Shoulder Bursitis Exercises to Try at Home

Exercises specifically for bursitis are designed to help strengthen your muscles, increase motion and reduce the frequency of swelling. But before attempting any of these exercises, always consult with a licensed physical therapist first. They can determine both the type and duration of exercises you can do. Once you’re good to go, you can try out the following exercises provided by the Summit Medical Group:9

Active Range of Motion

1. Stand and shrug your shoulders up and hold for five seconds. Then squeeze your shoulder blades back and together and hold five seconds.

2. Next, pull your shoulder blades downward as if putting them in your back pocket. Relax.

3. Repeat this sequence 10 times.

Sleeper Stretch

1. Lie on your injured side with your hips and knees flexed and your arm straight out in front of you.

2. Bend the elbow on your injured side to a right angle so that your fingers are pointing toward the ceiling. Then use your other hand to gently push your arm down toward the floor.

3. Keep your shoulder blades lightly squeezed together as you do this exercise. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

4. Repeat three times.

Scaption

1. Stand with your arms at your sides and with your elbows straight.

2. Slowly raise your arms to eye level. As you raise your arms, spread them apart so that they are only slightly in front of your body (at about a 30-degree angle to the front of your body).

3. Point your thumbs toward the ceiling. Hold for two seconds and lower your arms slowly. Do two sets of 15.

4. Progress to holding a soup can or a light weight when you are doing the exercise and increase the weight as the exercise gets easier.

Isometric Shoulder External Rotation

1. Stand in a doorway with your elbow bent 90 degrees and the back of the wrist on your injured side pressed against the door frame.

2. Try to press your hand outward into the door frame. Hold for five seconds.

3. Do two sets of 15.

Isometric Shoulder Internal Rotation

1. Stand in a doorway with your elbow bent 90 degrees and the front of the wrist on your injured side pressed against the door frame.

2. Try to press your palm into the door frame. Hold for five seconds.

3. Do two sets of 15.

MORE ABOUT BURSITIS

Bursitis: An Introduction

What Is Bursitis?

Bursitis Types

Hip Bursitis

Elbow Bursitis

Knee Bursitis

Shoulder Bursitis

Heel Bursitis

Septic Bursitis

Bursitis Causes

Bursitis Symptoms

Bursitis Treatment

Bursitis Prevention

Bursitis Diet

Bursitis FAQ

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